Best Road Trips From Kansas City

From iconic bucket-list American landmarks, beautiful national parks and watersport-ready lakes to cities famous for their music heritage, there is something for everyone on a road trip from Kansas City.

Top Road Trip Destinations From Kansas City

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Our rankings are based only on editorial opinion, not any commercial consideration.
Lone row boat bobbing on Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, Texas, USA

Lake of the Ozarks

🚗 150 miles ⏱️ 2 hours, 30 minutes

Beautiful scenery and outdoor fun combine, Lake of the Ozarks is a favorite destination for water activities, beautiful landscapes, and lively entertainment options. This is the perfect destination for families and outdoor lovers for a day trip.

On the way, you can also visit Yaya's Alpaca Farm, Henry County Museum, Harry S Truman State Park and Swinging Bridge Of Warsaw.

St. Louis, Missouri, USA downtown cityscape on the river at dusk.

St Louis

🚗 250 miles ⏱️ 3 hours, 40 minutes

If you are looking for an urban experience, St Louis is a great destination to visit. This colorful city is famous for its iconic Gateway Arch, buzzing music scene, and historical museums.

On top of these, you can also visit Maple Leaf Lake Conservation Area,Warm Springs Ranch, Shelter Gardens in Columbia and Big Joel's Safari Petting Zoo and Educational Park en route.

Domed roof lit up by bright sunlight with city landscape in the background


🚗 730 miles ⏱️ 10 hours, 50 minutes

Denver has the perfect combination of city life and beautiful surroundings. The city offers a stunning backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, great for anyone who loves an outdoor lifestyle.

There are plenty of new places to discover on the way such as Lauritzen Gardens, Great Plains Art Museum, Pony Express Station Museum and Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park Museum.

Mont Rushmore in South Dakota on a sunny day depicting the 4 presidents of the USA

Mount Rushmore

🚗 730 miles ⏱️ 10 hours, 20 minutes

The easily recognizable Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a must-visit to see the majestic sculptures of four US presidents carved into the granite face of the mountain.

On the way, you can visit Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, Sioux City Art Center, Falls Park in Sioux Falls and Badlands National Park.

Chicago Skyscrapers Skyline View from Lincoln Park with Sunlight


🚗 590 miles ⏱️ 9 hours

Looking for some urban fun and cityscapes? Chicago is a metropolis that is home to world-renowned museums, and iconic architecture like the Willis Tower and the Bean.

The places you can visit en route include the iconic Gateway Arch, Route 66 Drive In Theater in Springfield, and McLean County Museum of History.

Colorful guitar-shaped neon sign at Nashville Broadway

🚗 660 miles ⏱️ 11 hours, 30 minutes

Nashville, the heart of country music, is not only famous for its colorful music scene but also for its rich history and southern hospitality. You will also find amazing BBQ joints here.

En route, we recommend stopping at Branson Scenic Railway, Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site, Patti's 1880's Settlement in Grand Rivers and Dunbar Cave State Park.

A river view of the tourist attraction of Wisconsin Dells sandstone formation.

Wisconsin Dells

🚗 510 miles ⏱️ 8 hours

Wisconsin Dells is nicknamed "the waterpark capital of the world", offering fun for the whole family with its numerous theme parks and natural beauty.

Many please you can visit on this road trip include the Jesse James Birthplace, Pappajohn Sculpture Park, National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and Crystal Lake Cave near Dubuque.

Des Moines, Iowa, USA with the skyline at night.

Des Moines

🚗 190 miles ⏱️ 2 hours, 50 minutes

Des Moines, a hidden gem in the heartland, is known for its state fairgrounds and lively downtown district. In Downtown, you can view historic architecture, enjoy a little retail therapy and treat yourself to a meal.

The drive to Des Moines is dotted with famous people's birth homes, such as Jesse James Birthplace, Walt Disney Hometown Museum and John Wayne Birthplace Museum; the latter being short detours away.

Dallas, Texas, USA downtown city skyline.


🚗 555 miles ⏱️ 8 hours, 10 minutes

Dallas is the place to head to for the quintessential Texan experience. From its upscale shopping and amazing culinary scene to historic sights and live performances, the city offers the perfect mix of Texas charm and cosmopolitan flair.

Some great places to visit en route are Kansas State Capitol in Topeka, Wichita Botanical Gardens, Oklahoma City Zoo and Turner Falls Park.

Omaha, Nebraska, USA with an aerial view of the downtown Omaha skyline.


🚗 480 miles ⏱️ 8 hours

Omaha is another amazing urban destination on our list that blends a historic background with contemporary fun. The city has the famous Old Market district and the beloved Henry Doorly Zoo.

Some of the amazing places you can visit en route are Evel Knievel Museum, Arbor Lodge State Historical Park, Museum of American Speed in Lincoln and Pawnee State Recreation Area.

Branson, Missouri, USA with a view of the stone church at top of the rock overlooking the city.


🚗 330 miles ⏱️ 5 hours, 45 minutes

Branson, Missouri, is a family-friendly hotspot where you can enjoy live shows, stunning Ozark scenery, and exciting theme parks. With entertainment and outdoor activities on offer, Branson is a great destination for any adventurer.

On the way, don't miss out on visiting Maple Leaf Lake Conservation Area, Rock Bridge Memorial State Park, Lake of the Ozarks, Osage Beach and Route 66 Museum in Lebanon.

Charming barn at Historic Weston Orchard and Vineyard with pumpkins displayed at its entrance


🚗 35 miles ⏱️ 40 minutes

Weston is the perfect place for an escape from the big city with its historic architecture, boutique wineries, and charming seasonal festivals. Being so close to Kansas City, it is great for a day trip.

There is plenty of natural beauty to discover on this short drive such as Platte Falls Conservation Area, Platte Ridge Park and Weston Bend State Park.

The Capitol of Topeka, Kansas USA


🚗 85 miles ⏱️ 1 hour, 35 minutes

Topeka is Kansas' capital and is home to the Kansas State Capitol and world-class museums. It's a great place to relax in one of the parks or explore new things, making it a perfect spot for a laid-back visit.

This is a short drive so you can make detours to visit Moon Marble Company, Lecompton Constitution Hall and Perry Lake Recreation Area on the way.

Crystal clear spring water at Ha Ha Tonka State Park, MO, USA on a sunny day.

Ha Ha Tonka State Park

🚗 160 miles ⏱️ 2 hours, 40 minutes

Ha Ha Tonka State Park is a true hidden gem with its fascinating castle ruins perched high above the Lake of the Ozarks. It's the perfect spot for an adventure, whether you're hiking scenic trails or picnicking by the water.

On the way there, you can visit Yaya's Alpaca Farm, Henry County Museum, Benton County Museum and Bridal Cave & Thunder Mountain Park.

Reflection of the sunset over the tranquil waters of the lake near Kansas City

Smithville Lake

🚗 30 miles ⏱️ 40 minutes

Smithville Lake is a local favorite for anyone looking to fish, boat, or simply soak up some sunshine along its scenic shores. It's an ideal getaway for a day of outdoor fun or a relaxing afternoon in nature.

As you leave the city on this short drive, you can visit The Rush Funplex, Shoal Creek Living History Museum and Smoke & Davey Trailhead en route.

Bentonville, Arkansas, USA with a view of Walmart Museum downtown Bentonville.


🚗 210 miles ⏱️ 3 hours, 10 minutes

Bentonville is a charming small town known for its Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. It's the perfect blend of small-town charm and great museums and eateries.

You can visit Route 66 Drive-In in Carthage, Grand Falls in Joplin and George Washington Carver National Monument en route.

Vintage sign advertising Totem Pole Trading Post in Rolla, MO


🚗 220 miles ⏱️ 3 hours, 30 minutes

Rolla is a cozy college town where you can dive into the local history at museums or explore the great outdoors with its parks and trails. There is something to do for everyone in this charming small town.

Some of the great places you can visit en route are Maple Leaf Lake Conservation Area, Warm Springs Ranch, Columbia Art League and Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City.

Columbia, Missouri, USA historic campus and columns.


🚗 125 miles ⏱️ 1 hour, 50 minutes

Columbia is a lively college town, home to the University of Missouri. In this laid-back town, you will find plenty of eclectic shops, and affordable eateries.

As you make your way to Columbia, you can visit Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area, Maple Leaf Lake Conservation Area, Bothwell Lodge State Historic Site and Arrow Rock State Historic Site.

Golden Driller, Tulsa, Oklahoma


🚗 340 miles ⏱️ 5 hours, 40 minutes

Tulsa is a city where Southern comfort meets urban adventure, where you can visit great museums showcasing world-class art, live music venues, and unique historical sites.

On the way, we recommend stopping at Route 66 Drive-In in Carthage, Joplin's Grand Falls and Bernice Nature Center.

Springfield, Missouri, USA with a view of the city skyline at dusk.

Springfield, Missouri

🚗 170 miles ⏱️ 2 hours, 40 minutes

Springfield, Missouri is a great spot for anyone looking to enjoy live music, museums, and outdoor activities. It's a welcoming city that offers plenty of charm and adventure around every corner.

En route, Yaya's Alpaca Farm, Henry County Museum and Dunnegan Memorial Park are a few of the great places you can visit.

Longer road trips from Kansas City

Beautiful Niagara Falls on a clear sunny day. Niagara, Canada

Niagara Falls

🚗 1,005 miles ⏱️ 14 hours, 40 minutes

There are only a few places in the country as majestic as Niagara Falls, a spectacular natural wonder famous for its breathtaking views and powerful falls.

Yellowstone National Park, Madison River Valley, American Bison Herd, Wyoming

🚗 1,230 miles ⏱️ 18 hours, 30 minutes

Yellowstone National Park, the world's first national park, is home to geothermal wonders like Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic and fascinating wildlife such as the famous bison that roam the landscape.

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA skyline over the strip at dusk.

🚗 1,350 miles ⏱️ 19 hours, 40 minutes

Las Vegas is deservingly called the entertainment capital of the world. Here you will find neon-lit casinos, spectacular shows, and nightlife that doesn't seem to stop!

Orlando, Florida, USA with a view of the Orlando Eye against a cloudy but sunny sky and palm trees in the foreground.


🚗 1,650 miles ⏱️ 28 hours

Orlando is world-famously the theme park capital of the world, and this Florida city offers endless fun with attractions like Walt Disney World Resort, and Universal Studios.

Beautiful cloudy day of Los Angeles downtown skyline and palm trees in foreground

🚗 1,795 miles ⏱️ 27 hours

Located on the beautiful Pacific Coast, Los Angeles is home to iconic Hollywood sights such as the Hollywood Sign, sun-soaked beaches and amazing theme parks.